Sunday, February 22, 2015

Beginning, Middle... Where's the End?

I'm fairly certain that I have written about this before, but here I go again...

Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. The reason I enjoy a good movie, a good book, etc. is because there is always a conclusion!

When I was first diagnosed with MS, I got increasingly annoyed by the statement "at least you don't have cancer." OK, I get it, MS is NOT going to kill me, but there isn't really an ending to my MS story. Really, there isn't an ending to anyone's MS story because there isn't a cure and it isn't fatal. With cancer, there is an end; not always favorable, but some sort of conclusion. What does this mean? Every day, I get to wake up and acknowledge that it is just another day with MS. Why? Because being diagnosed with MS is 'til death do us part'... although admittedly I'll forever be poking around for some sort of conclusion to my MS story.

I need to acknowledge that 90% of the time I am no longer bitter about the fact that I will never be cured from this odd disease. I say this because I have a very close friend who challenges me daily with living for today, not last week or next year. Sometimes I basically tell her to take a hike because I need to be in my 10% misery for a little while, but I always find my way back from that place.

OK, so what is it really like not knowing what the conclusion will be when you have a chronic disease? Well, think of that favorite TV show you had at one point, that suddenly went off the air because you and only two other people were still watching it. Do you recall sitting around trying to figure out what was next for the characters? I think a show that speaks to a large population is LOST. I never watched the TV show, but I do recall hearing all of the conversations that people were having about the show... Were the characters aliens, were they dead, was the island purgatory. I honestly don't know what that conclusion was, but I know the people who cared were sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the conclusion.

Why?

I think it is human nature to want to know what comes next, or how the story is going to end. We need to see beyond today to know that our lives will be exactly how we want them to be 20 years. I have a bit of a secret... Don't get too caught up on your plans because something is going to change those plans for you. It doesn't matter though because the plans are literally just plans, kind of like your budget is just your budget. I'm sure you have had a time in your life in which you had no idea something was going to break, and then your budget went right out the window. Last year, for me, it was my refrigerator, followed by a broken pipe, followed by a broken hot water heater. The only choice I had was to fix all of these items and move on. I learned some very valuable lessons with each twist of the road, but the most important lesson I have learned is that, in this moment I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

I guess what I am getting at is that I have to quit yearning to know what the end will look like, because really, the middle is what really matters in life!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Thinking Out Loud

I'm not a big Ed Sheeran fan. As a matter of fact, when I hear his songs come on the radio I'm fairly quick to change the station, and along came Thinking Out Loud, and my Ed Sheeran disdain subsided. It is kind of like my relationship with Bruno Mars... I am embarrassed to say that I like his music, but am not embarrassed by the creativity and thoughtfulness of the lyrics. This is where I should mention that Ed Sheeran was not alone in writing Thinking Out Loud. Amy Wadge, a songwriter, helped write this song.

The opening lyrics of the song immediately spoke to me.

When your legs don't work like they used to before...

Boom! I'm intrigued.

And so I listened intently... It turned into a love song about the world of unconditional love. Life experience has taught me that unconditional love/friendship does not come along daily, and so when it does, it is a true gift

For those of you who have a chronic disease, doesn't matter what disease, you will likely understand this fairly easily. Basically, your body will likely change over time, perhaps at a more progressive rate than your peers who do not have a chronic disease, and there is this fear that can travel along with the chronic disease that people will abandon you, leave you, and choose not to be your friend. Ask some of the people I spend a lot of time with and they will tell you this is my biggest fear. I fret over it actually...

Here's the interesting thing, I'm not afraid of not being able to walk. You know why? Because there is always a wheel chair. I'm not afraid of the pain. Why? There is medication. I'm not afraid of falling over because I can always get back up, in some way. And this is where the lyrics take me to a place of longing for knowing my friends will stick by my side.

The one thing I know is that regardless of your situation, chronic disease or not, you never know what tomorrow has to bring and so it is extremely important to live for today, something I struggle with. It is a hard concept for some people, including me, but this song speaks to that fear of not having at least one thing that is unconditional in your life.

I'm the queen of being hard on the unconditionals in my life, fair or not, it is true. If I know you will be around tomorrow, I can sometimes take advantage of that. I hope I'm not alone in that, and I suspect I am not, but when you listen more closely to the lyrics, and take the love out of it...

When my hairs all but gone and my memory fades
And the crowds don't remember my name
When my hands don't play the strings in the same way
I know you will still love me the same

These lyrics are not about love per se, but instead about the gift of truly caring about someone unconditionally, through the bad days, the not nice words, aging, changing abilities and so on. I know that I am a fortunate one; one of the people who has unconditional friends/family who would likely say:

...your soul could never grow old, it's evergreen
...your smile's forever in my mind and memory

I'm lucky that people trust this, especially on my grumpy days!

So, what is the true point of this post? I honestly don't know the answer to that... I'll let you figure that out for yourself. The one thing I am personally taking away from this is that when my unconditional people around me 'keep making the same mistakes', I will give them the gift of understanding! You should too!!!

Here is the song for your listening pleasure. (If you are viewing on a mobile device, and can't view the video here, you can access it through this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6Cswdm601A)




Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Letter to the Slow Runner

It has been a very long time since I have posted, to say I have been uninspired would be lying. The truth is that I have been watching this deluge of negativity floating around facebook about slow runners and I have been wanting to say something, but have been afraid that I was reacting without much thought, but I think I'm ready to get it out. This post is a letter to the slow runner, because I am one of the slow runners who has been discouraged.

Dear Slow Runner,

You may have noticed that races have been limiting their course times, which may inhibit your participation. I want to tell you to not be upset about the race limits! It is something you can strive to overcome when you are ready! I also want to tell you that there are races all over the country that will meet your needs, go and find one of those races, and do that race! Also, once you find one of those races, don't forget to go and cheer on the people who are running the race you initially planned to participate in, afterall, they may be crushing that course, or they might be falling behind the course time of that race, because it is a bad day for them, and they might need a smiling face to pick them up in the end!

I also want to remind you that everyone has their own journey. Your journey might include getting faster, getting skinnier, getting healthier. It is YOURS and enjoy it! Your journey might simply be to run, and there is nothing wrong with that. You are not responsible for taking on other people's expectations as your own! If you are happy with your pace, your body, your level of fitness, that is OK! Don't let others tell you that your journey is not good enough...

As a runner, you may see people you have looked up to for their tremendous achievements, who you have cheered on while they have trained to reach their goals, who were there and supported you when you ran your first big race even at your slow pace, who ran with you and were just as slow as you when you trained for your first big race, now making comments that you need to train harder to be your best; don't be discouraged! You are on your own journey and likely doing your best right now!!! However fast or slow you are, you are worth it! Embrace every step you are taking, because you are blessed with the ability to take that step, while others may not be. Love the start line of your next race, and love the finish line, even if it takes you 8 hours to get their. Celebrate your achievements and thank the people who were along for the ride, whether your training buddy, your on course support, your cheerleader!

I also want to remind you that one of the reasons you run is because of the amazingly supportive people, and friends you have made and will make along the way. Even though you may see some negativity from fellow runners, and it is very easy to focus on, there is more positive energy out there than negative. Find it and embrace it!!!

Finally, do not let other people tell you that you weigh to much, are too skinny, need more muscle tone to run your race... Sure, losing some weight and being more 'fit', whatever that means' may make things a little easier for you, they are not the be all/end all to being a runner.

The bottom line is this, go out and have fun! You are worth it, and many people are inspired by your journey!

Sincerely,

A VERY slow runner